At the start of the 2013-2014 school year, Kaitlynn Douglas, a student at Beaverlodge Regional High School (BRHS), was selected to the Minister of Education’s Student Advisory Council. As a member of the Council, she met with the Minister multiple times throughout the school year and assisted with the planning and facilitation of the annual Speak Out conference – a student engagement initiative, launched in 2008, and designed to help youth share their experiences and ideas with Alberta Education.
Now a Grade 11 student and in her second year of service on the Council, Miss Douglas shared information on Jurisdictional Student Engagement Teams (JSETs) during the Board Meeting on January 8, 2015. This year, the 27-member Student Advisory Council has been tasked with developing JSETs at School Divisions across Alberta.
According to the Council’s meeting minutes, “JSETs are intended to enhance existing methods of gaining student involvement in decision making at the jurisdiction level, encourage more students to share their input on the learning experience for students, and build a network of students that can support the work of the Minister’s Student Advisory Council member in their jurisdiction.”
During their first meeting, Council members were also asked to list the benefits and challenges of forming a JSET in their school jurisdiction, and if no similar group was in place, to start thinking about what a JSET might look like, and then connect with their jurisdiction to discuss further development.
“Being selected to the Council and knowing I would work alongside the Minister of Education changed my life,” says Miss Douglas. “I have one year left on this Council and I want to get our Board involved and reach out to other schools in our District. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I can’t even believe that I am here today offering this presentation to you.”
Miss Douglas asked the Board for their support in sharing information on JSETs with Division schools, and help with recruitment and meeting logistics.
Trustee Sharilyn Anderson says she would like to get behind the JSET initiative one hundred per cent.
“Even though our Division is spread out over a large geographical area, getting students together over video conference is certainly possible, and I’m excited to have our student voice heard at the government level,” adds Trustee Anderson.
“I’m so impressed with Kaitlynn and pleased to have her as a student in Beaverlodge,” says Richard Lappenbush, Trustee for Beaverlodge and Elmworth.
Board Chair Dana McIntosh says she feels that “a JSET will fit perfectly with Deputy Superintendent Mark Davidson’s recent discussions with Principals regarding bringing together a group of high school students to offer input on the development of a Quality Learning Environment at PWSD.”
For more information on the Council, visit www.speakout.alberta.ca/council.